Following the capture of my big carp, as recorded in last week’s journal entry, I went home on a high. However when I got there I was brought back to earth as our pet ferret, Mr Big, had got out the evening before and my wife and daughters could not find him. ‘It’s just a ferret, what’s the big deal?’ is what I hear you say, but to us he is part of the family. He lives in the house, sleeps in sock drawers and goes on holiday with us.
Anyway we were all devastated and because everything is relative, we had a dreadful few days. But then, in a story that is too long to tell, but is truly amazing, we got him back. And that was just in time for my next fishing trip to the gravel pit. A lot of people think that fishing is relaxing, but I find – and this is accentuated by the type of angling I do – that if there is something troubling you then a molehill definitely becomes a mountain.
It was a cooler day with a breeze coming in from the north. The water temperature however was a constant 13.5 C throughout the session, so that was good. Many anglers don’t appreciate the fact that it’s not air temperatures that really matter, but instead what counts is that beneath the surface of the water. Hence, in winter when air temperature plummets as darkness falls, that of the water doesn’t fluctuate in the same way. In fact, get some cloud cover and it is likely to rise.
There were several carp anglers on the gravel pit when I arrived, but my chosen peg was free. I catapulted about thirty balls of brown crumb and sweetcorn out to the plateau feature that I am fishing too, and then cast out the rods, put them in the pod and settled back to enjoy the session. I had several single bleeps, but this was due to small fish plucking at the grains of corn. This is the main reason that I am using artificial bait, as I was having problems with keeping bait on the hook.
The session looked to be a very quiet one though, and it was quite late (at 2.45 am) when I finally had a fish. I was woken by a run on the left rod, and striking into the fish I could feel something reasonably decent. However, on this water I never know if it is a tench, bream or even a carp, as I continue to be outfoxed by fish thinking they are another species by the way the fight. It’s only when they come to the net that I am finally convinced.
This fish turned out to be a 6lb+ tench, which is a good fish. Obviously when we read the weekly angling magazines, we will see the best of the best in terms of national fish caught. Therefore it is easy to think that a 6lb tench is not much to shout about, but that’s not true. Anyway, I am always keen to emphasise that a specimen fish is one that is relative to the venue fished. So a 10lb carp from your local canal that yields nothing larger than a gudgeon, might be a greater angling achievement than a 20lb carp from a known venue that is stuffed full of big fish.
I also had another fish at first light and to endorse my point about never knowing what they are until I actually see them, this classic bream bite produced another tench. It was larger than the first one, but still a 6lb+ fish. And as it had caused a real tangle with the other rod due to it going ballistic a length out, I decided at that to call it quits.
I had to get back home anyway at a reasonable time, so an extra hour wasn’t really going to make that much difference as it’s mostly during the nocturnal hours that I catch. So back it was to my wife, two daughters, Twinkle the Bedlington Terrier and of course, Mr Big!
(Originally published May 2007)